Kira is a seven year old German shepherd whose original owners loved her, but couldn’t meet her health or exercise needs. This resulted in an overweight dog with no muscle tone, who was very nervous in everyday situations. I first met Kira with her new mum Tina while they were at a dog event. Kira looked exhausted, and she’d only been there less than an hour. She was in such poor condition that her back end was collapsing and I could barely do a physical assessment on her. As soon as I touched her she would collapse away from me. This was an overweight dog with severe muscle wastage, of a breed susceptible to hip issues-although Tina had already had x-rays done and ruled out hip dysplasia. I gave Tina a few gentle exercises to start with, to increase muscle and improve Kira’s stamina.
The next time I saw Kira was to assess her and provide treatment, she was already improved. The advice I’d given Tina to start had been implemented, and Kira had lost weight due to her controlled diet. She dragged her back legs when walking and had very little muscle tone, but I was able to do a physical assessment without her legs collapsing under her-an improvement from our first meeting! She appeared to not have structural issues, just a lack of muscle conditioning, and the muscles she did use were in terrible condition. When getting up from the ground, she would pull herself up with her front legs only, not engaging her back legs at all. Every time I touched anywhere on her back, all her muscles would draw together and twitch all over. Kira’s muscles were in such poor condition that muscles weren’t working the way it was supposed to, she was using her body unnaturally to compensate for her leg and back muscles not doing their job. I decided on three treatments every two days, to train the muscles into their new habits, then a treatment a week later to ensure the changes were holding.
“Donna visited Kira in our home where she would be most comfortable in familiar surroundings and took her time to observe and assess her needs. Throughout the treatment Donna was guided by Kira’s tolerance and respected her need to walk away and take time out.”
For this first treatment, I worked on her back and hindquarters to reactivate those muscles. Partway through the treatment she was no longer dragging her back feet, her back was no longer sloped, and I had completely changed the way she stood and walked. Despite Kira’s protests and avoidance techniques, I also did some lymphatic drainage to help with her history of ear infections. At the time she had two burst eardrums.
“I appreciated Donna explaining what she was looking for, what certain twitches and movements indicated and what improvements could be made to assist Kira.”
For her second treatment she was like a different dog. She was using her back legs to get up and down normally, her stance was different-square instead of sloped at the back end, and Tina confirmed she had only seen her drag her back feet once after a long walk-huge improvement! Kira’s back muscles were still very reactive to touch, but in different places. This is not surprising since muscles try to revert to their old ways and old habits, and I had woken up muscles that had been sleeping-possibly unused for years. I could now feel tone and distinguish between individual muscles in her back legs instead of them being a flabby mass. Halfway through the treatment her back muscles were only reactive over her ribs along her girth line, and by the end of the treatment the twitching was negligible. Kira was much more receptive to me touching her ears and face this time, which indicates they were less painful. Tina told me a large lump of black gunk had come out of one of Kira’s ears, so I did the lymphatic drainage again. Better out than in!
“There has been a dramatic improvement with Kira’s stamina and mobility noticeable after each session with Donna.”
Prior to the third treatment, Tina told me Kira was now standing on her back legs to look over the garden wall, increased stamina and was noticeably coming out of her shell. I’ll take credit for the ability to stand on the back legs, Tina gets credit for the increased stamina, and the change of attitude is a mix of a new and enriching environment (Tina’s work) and removing the physical pain (my bodywork). Kira’s back muscles were only reacting over certain parts of her ribs, her leg muscles were noticeably toned, and her back muscles which were previously rigid and reactive, were now softer, less reactive, and with increased flexibility so they could do their job properly.
“Kira picks her feet up more when walking and is able to go from lying to standing with more ease.”
The final treatment was a week later. Some of the reactivity had come back into the back muscles, over the ribs as opposed to the whole back, so the changes to the muscles were holding well. Overall, the improvements are massive and she is like a different dog, she now looks like a three year old dog. Kira’s physical improvements were matched by her emotional improvements, where she now felt comfortable walking away from me and letting me know when she didn’t like something. It’s great to see the improvements in her confidence as well as the physical improvements.
“Following the block of four treatments, she is less hindered with fatigue she initiates her walks and people often think she is younger than her seven years.”
I saw a German shepherd at another event a few weeks later (a breed I keep an eye out because of the multitude of health issues they have) and thought nope, they’re in great condition, they don’t need me. It was Kira! It is incredibly satisfying to see these improvements and to know that I don’t need to stick around forever, many dogs just need a few treatments and then flourish with their families.